The professional and personal lives of those who work in advertising on Madison Avenue - self-coined "mad men" - in the 1960s are presented. The stories focus on those at one of the avenue's smaller firms, Sterling Cooper, and its various incarnations over the decade. At the heart of these stories is Donald Draper, the creative genius of the company. That professional creative brilliance belies the fact of a troubled childhood, one that he would rather forget and not let anyone know about except for a select few, but one that shaped who he is as an adult and as an ad man in the need not only to sell products but sell himself to the outside world. His outward confidence also masks many insecurities as evidenced through his many vices, such as excessive smoking, drinking and womanizing - the latter despite being a family man - and how he deals with the aftermath of some of the negative aspects of his life.
Where The Truth Lies ...
Did You Know?
Character Ken Cosgrove was likely based in part on the novelist/poet James Dickey, who worked in advertising in the 1960s while publishing poems in The New Yorker and other prominent magazines. He also bears much in common with screenwriter/novelist Herman Raucher, who staged plays on Broadway while working as an advertising executive. Raucher ultimately left advertising when the success of his novel and screenplay for Summer of 42 made him a millionaire. See more
The picture of Pete's wife is different in later episodes than from the pilot. The picture in the pilot is obviously not the actress who plays Pete's wife (Alison Brie) most likely because she was not yet cast. See more
Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. You know what happiness is? Happiness is smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing, its okay. You are okay.
Referenced in The Making of 'Mad Men'
The Best Things in Life are Free
Performed by Robert Morse See more